The Problem With ‘Truth in Sentencing’
Truth in Sentencing brands itself as something fair and equitable, but in reality, it is a Trojan Horse that costs communities dearly.
In practice, it has proven to prevent meaningful opportunities to reduce recidivism and increase public safety.
Truth in Sentencing over-punishes those who have opportunities for rehabilitation, and the sustained cost depletes scarce resources that could be used to prevent violent crime. Mandating that every individual sentenced to a term of imprisonment will serve the same percentage of the sentence is bad policy.
For instance, in Arizona, it means that each person that goes to prison will serve 85% of the sentence imposed, no matter the crime.
So, an individual sentenced to prison for a drug possession crime and an individual sentenced to prison for armed robbery will both serve 85% of those sentences. There is no ability to earn time off a sentence, which is also known as receiving good time credits.
The only exception to this rule is for crimes with statutory requirements in which the offender must serve 100% of the sentence, which applies to offenses like homicide and serious child-related crimes.
Truth in Sentencing does nothing to prepare individuals to re-enter communities, and with 95% of all incarcerated eventually released, this blanket policy puts public safety in jeopardy.